The tendency to stop collecting information is linked to illusions of causality
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Moreno-Fernández, M.M., Blanco, F. & Matute, H. The tendency to stop collecting information is linked to illusions of causality. Sci Rep 11, 3942 (2021). [https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-82075-w]
SponsorshipAgencia Estatal de Investigacion of the Spanish Government (AEI) RTI2018-096700-J-I00 PSI2017-83196-R PSI2016-78818-R; European Commission; Basque Government IT955-16
Previous research proposed that cognitive biases contribute to produce and maintain the symptoms exhibited by deluded patients. Specifically, the tendency to jump to conclusions (i.e., to stop collecting evidence soon before making a decision) has been claimed to contribute to delusion formation. Additionally, deluded patients show an abnormal understanding of cause-effect relationships, often leading to causal illusions (i.e., the belief that two events are causally connected, when they are not). Both types of bias appear in psychotic disorders, but also in healthy individuals. In two studies, we test the hypothesis that the two biases (jumping to conclusions and causal illusions) appear in the general population and correlate with each other. The rationale is based on current theories of associative learning that explain causal illusions as the result of a learning bias that tends to wear off as additional information is incorporated. We propose that participants with higher tendency to jump to conclusions will stop collecting information sooner in a causal learning study than those participants with lower tendency to jump to conclusions, which means that the former will not reach the learning asymptote, leading to biased judgments. The studies provide evidence in favour that the two biases are correlated but suggest that the proposed mechanism is not responsible for this association.